PCSing can be challenging. With all the attention you have to give to the logistics of relocating, combined with your own emotions about moving, the littlest members of your family can sometimes take a back seat to a lot of controlled chaos. Here are five important tips for making the move a little less stressful for your kids.
1. Involve them. All people long for some control, especially regarding big changes. A PCS is a big change, and a lot of the decisions are already made, which can make you experience a range of feelings, many not so great. Kids struggle with the same feelings, but you can offer them a little sense of control by involving them in the process. If they are very young, just talking about what is happening can be comforting. If they are a little older, try giving them some responsibility. Helping, and feeling important can do wonders for their sense of self during an uneasy time.
2. Help them wrap up at your current station. To a kid, moving can be an enormous deal. They have friends and routines that feel irreplaceable. While some of them may be, there are a lot of great experiences awaiting them, but they won’t necessarily see it that way. Take some time to make a plan for saying goodbye, preserving some memories, and staying in touch. A well-planned goodbye can alleviate a lot of anxiety.
3. Talk it out. Sometimes there is nothing to do but talk about how you feel, ask them how they feel, acknowledge it, and keep going. Sometimes kids don’t have the emotional vocabulary to express themselves, but exploring ideas with them can help them learn. Take the time to talk it out; it might be helpful to you as an adult as well.
4. Make a plan for your future station. The internet is a powerful tool. Give kids some peace of mind that there are cool things at the new duty station as well. Look up fun things to do around your new area and activities that they are interested in. Got a little soccer star? Find the youth soccer league in your new town and get some details.
5. Keep a routine, even if it a new routine. All routines start somewhere. Life might be turned upside down for a while, but you can always find some order in the whole mess. Try to keep some small routines or make the best of some silly moving situations. I remember using some packed boxes as the structure for a blanket fort that I read in every night until they loaded the boxes up for the move. Make the best of it and just know it will be time for a new set of routines soon enough.
What advice can you give about kids and PCSing? How do you embrace the chaos and help your children do the same? Let us know in the comments below!